In 1991, 1600 black women signed a declaration stating that they believed Anita Hill. The statement was organized by the Women Action Campaign, knowing well that their support would change little within a patriarchal power structure. They wanted posterity to forever know, that black women had stood up for the truth. That black women had believed a woman bravely standing up, to tell the truth. That black women had been right, regarding a Justice who would go on to do so much wrong.
There is a unique psychosis to the colonizer. To the man who has conquered and claimed, and taken without accountability or justice. This state of mind is not limited to the soldier or commander; the one who physically takes through force of violence, that which nature never offered. This mentality afflicts all those who come after. All who sit on land and water, claimed through theft and death. All who stand on this side of a line they did not create, but now relish within. All who indulge the bounty, of a border drawn with blood. It is the mentality of the conqueror. Of the patriarchy. Of the man who believes he owes creation nothing; for he is the top of the food chain, and life is his dominion.
This week, 1600 men signed a declaration stating they too believe Anita Hill. And more pressing in this moment, that they believe Dr. Christina Ford. It is a powerful statement, and these men represent many of us across this land. Men who believe women. Men who believe survivors. Men who are ready and willing to stand and fight, with those who have always known.
Today's hearings were a travesty. Stories across the country are being shared, from survivors who have never shared before. From survivors who have never been believed. From survivors who have been forced to remain silent. From survivors who have never been afforded the space necessary to heal. From survivors who are telling the truth.
Dr. Ford told the truth today. She did so with poise and eloquence and dignity and expertise. She was both the witness, and the voice of reason. The voice of conscience, and the voice of academic understanding. She exhibited her excellence calmly, even as she relived a trauma that has clearly guided her life’s work.
The Republican Party hired a Prosecutor to question a Victim, while sharing her Testimony. By all accounts, the prosecutor is an expert in sexual assault. When the man accused of sexual assault was brought inside, the prosecutor was discarded. One by one, white men of extraordinary privilege, who had neither the decency or integrity to speak directly to Dr. Ford, apologized to the man accused of sexual assault.
I will never understand what it means to be a woman. I am a cis-gendered man of privilege myself, and while I have experienced violence and abuse, and known the erratic pain of powerlessness; I have never known what it would be like to wake up tomorrow and know that I would not be believed. I have been doubted, and ignored, shunned and expelled, silenced and erased; but if I brought testimony to the authorities of this land or any other land, I would do so carrying a high degree of certainty that I would find someone to believe me. Someone to take my concerns seriously. Someone to listen to my story. Listening to the stories pouring in from across the country, from women who have been abused and assaulted, it is clear that this has rarely been the case for so many.
I was raised to love women, to appreciate women, to listen to women. But I was also raised to view women as sexual objects. To take pride in sexual conquests. This is not something I am proud of, nor something I wish to pass onto my children. But there can be no doubt that it was true. Friends, mentors and role models, encouraged sexual exploration in a way that may have had healthy intentions, but were so distinctly wrapped up in a language of conquering and victory and winning and pride, that it lost its connection to the sacred or the feminine or the loving, and was replaced by a race or a competition inseparable from personal achievement. These were among my earliest lessons, infused with a masculinity that believed it was entitled to a woman’s affection. To a woman’s bedroom. To a woman’s body.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed by the friendship of brilliant and capable and strong women. Women who have taught me and guided me and cared for me. Women whose labor I have too often taken for granted. Women whose insights I have too often ignored. Women who have been central in making me me, as I suspect they do often are, in making each of us, us. I will never know how to properly say thank you. For their labor and their love, their patience and their kindness. For their forgiveness when I have betrayed the balance of power between male and female. And for their understanding when I have attempted to grow.
Certainly one way I have learned to say thank you, is to serve. To serve their causes and battles. Their priorities and promises. Their convictions and demands of conscience.
At Standing Rock, I began to fully understand what life could look like within a Matriarchy. We were creating a society without centralized leadership, and in every corner of camp, where necessary work was being performed, women were consistently at the center. Guiding our physical needs of food, water and warmth, and guiding the needs of spirit, in tradition and ceremony and conflict resolution. Each day I woke up, ready to ask the women what was needed for the day. And each day I relished, in fulfilling those needs. Knowing, deep within, that they were persistently concerned with the wellbeing of us all.
I won’t pretend to know what to do about the current situation. Months ago, I yelled and fumed at the prospective nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, knowing full well who he is, and what he fights for. Whose rights he would protect, and whose he would disregard. What a sad and despicable representation he was, of someone who calls themselves a Justice. A man who values the values of colonialism above all else; patriarchy, white supremacy, protection of the powerful and legalized theft from the powerless. Who could stop him, I asked? Who could even mount a legitimate fight? At the time I did not know of the allegations of abuse that would come forward. I also did not know how courageously our sisters would rise.
I have never been a partisan. In the fight for human rights, we have often found temporary allies from all persuasions. But in the larger battles, there can be little doubt that both parties support the war machine, and both parties support the colonial conquest of indigenous people - both here and around the world. In waging wars for peace, and supporting those who struggle for dignity and life, I have often considered the Democratic Party a more inclusive form of colonialism. But after today’s hearing, I will do all in my power to defeat the Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee. Their willingness to treat Dr. Fords testimony as a chore they are required to perform, rather a sacred obligation to witness and investigate, showed them to be men worthy of detest. Men to be seen with the same hostility with which we view authoritarians and their defenders. Men who are a disgrace to humanity, and reviled by so many of the women who inevitably raised them.
Many of those I respect and admire, have given their lives to a revolution of love and life and peace, and the protection of all that is sacred. Though that revolution will never be fulfilled through voting alone, I hope we will all dedicate ourselves - at the very least - to removing these specific men from power. Their arrogant disregard for Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick, have earned them our enduring hostility. They deserve to be hunted by people of conscience, and given no quarter. Followed and pursued, haunted by the disrespect they exhibited today. If they confirm Kavanaugh, we will live a generation under their oppression. May they never forget the day they displayed the full ignorant hostility of the patriarchal power structure. May they remember for the rest of their lives, the day we decided, from sea to shining sea, to elect women to every office, in every corner of this land. It may not solve the war machine or the largest land grabs in history, but it will be a step. Toward the end of whatever we witnessed today. Call it patriarchy, call it fundamentalism, call it white supremacy. Whatever your descriptor, I pray our generation unleashes an army of non-violence, dedicated to removing these men from power forever. Perhaps then, we can get to the real work, of creating a power structure dedicated to human equality, and the liberation of all life.
Thank you to our sisters. Thank you to Dr. Ford. Thank you to the 1600 women who signed the original proclamation 27 years ago. Thank you to the women on the frontlines. Who have faced arrest, who have faced persecution, who have faced the rain and the cold and the hostility of those who close their eyes, in the pursuit of protecting power. Thank you. Your courage has inspired me, and has galvanized a generation. You have led us through dark days, and been a light among the storms. Thank you.
May tomorrow bring us some justice and some peace. And if it does not, may we work ceaselessly until the day it does.